Protecting Your Marriage from Infidelity

 

Have you ever worried what would happen if you found out your spouse was unfaithful to you?  I think there is always some part of us that wonders how we would react and if our marriage would survive this sort of betrayal and trauma.   Maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum and have had thoughts about engaging in a relationship with someone outside of your marriage.  This should be a red flag and something needs to be done to protect your marriage and prevent these thoughts from turning into actions!

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Greg Smalley, Psy. D. writes about daily decisions you can make to build trust and security to affair-proof your marriage:

  1. Make a Commitment Towards Growth

The more unhappy you or your spouse are in a marriage the more likely you are to find satisfaction outside of the marriage.  Ask yourself “What is something I could do that would cause our relationship to grow?”  Make a list and choose one thing from the list to do weekly.

  1. Becoming Aware of Your Choices

Many times we rationalize behaviors that could lead to infidelity.  For example, maybe there is a co-worker we find ourselves talking to at work and begin feeling an emotional connection to them.  We need to stop asking what is wrong with the choices we make and ask what’s right with them.  As we become aware of our choices we can protect our marriages.

  1. Draw a Line and Then Stay a Safe Distance Behind It!

It is important that you have a line of safety and stay a safe distance behind it.  This line will be different for everyone.  For one person it could mean not working late with a co-worker of the opposite sex and for another it may mean not meeting a certain person for lunch alone.  Whatever you line is draw it and stay behind it!

  1. Become Accountable to Someone

Find someone you can ask these questions to:  “Did you compromise your standards last week?” or “Have you been getting your emotional needs met from someone other than your mate?”  Having someone to be accountable to for the commitments you have made in your marriage will help in affair-proofing your marriage.

Marriage should be a life-long commitment!  We live in culture where we are taught new is always better and if something or someone isn’t meeting our needs than commitment and disloyalty are okay.  This is an individualistic view and not what marriage should be.  Marriage is about “us.”  Take a look at where you are in your own marriage.  Have you had thoughts about straying?  Do you talk to someone at work or when you go to the gym that you have an emotional connection with that may be inappropriate?    Evaluate your marriage and start working on ways to affair-prove it today.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side!

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Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage: TEENAGERS

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I recently took a Child Development class on Adolescents. I learned so much about teenagers from puberty to friend choices to risky behaviors. Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned was the impact raising teenagers has on the marital relationship.

Research suggests that a dip in marital satisfaction tends to occur around the time children have reached the adolescent stage. Part of this dissatisfaction may actually stem from parents entering their mid-life stage. Although raising teenagers can create changes in the family dynamics too. Teens pull away from family as they try to discover who they are and how they fit into the world. This loss of control from a parental standpoint can cause conflict in the marital relationship. Couples may disagree on the appropriate form of discipline or they may disagree on which parent should set the rules.

Think about this: “Not only does parental divisiveness weaken the marriage, it opens up parenting to adolescent manipulation.” Allowing teenagers to create a wedge between parents can only lead to more trouble.

The number one suggestion to overcome hard times in marriage caused by raising teenagers is to keep a united front. Talk to your spouse about the rules and boundaries that need to be set for your teens. Work together to solve any discipline issues that you can’t agree on; even compromising on a solution based on what is best for your teenager.

Some other good suggestions are:

  1. Hold Family Meetings: Meet with your teen regularly to discuss anything from discipline issues to their excellent performance in school. Doing this together with your spouse will keep the united front going strong.
  2. Meet Privately as a Couple: When decisions come up that you and your spouse don’t agree on, hold a private meeting to discuss it. Finding solutions and making these decisions together will keep you both involved and keep your marriage relationship strong.
  3. Get Professional Help: Sometimes raising a teenager is just too stressful, especially when your teen has major behavioral issues. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you feel like your marriage is at risk.

 

To find my previous posts on Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage, click here: Loss of a Child, Addictions, Chronic Illness, Losing a Job, Empty Nesters, and Becoming a New Parent.

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Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage: BECOMING A NEW PARENT

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I remember being pregnant with my first child and having so many wonderful feelings of anticipation and joy surrounding her birth. I had her tiny clothes washed and folded. I had her crib put together and covered with pink and purple bedding. My husband and I were counting down the days until she joined our family. Everything was perfect!

A new baby is love at first sight. A new baby warms hearts and puts smiles on lips. But a new baby can also cause stress in a marriage. According to a study on The Effect of the Transition to Parenthood on Relationship Quality, it is suggested that “the transition to parenthood constitutes a period of stressful and sometimes maladaptive change.” Although this is not true for all couples as “approximately one third to one half of couples evidence stability or increases in relationship satisfaction or love over the transition to parenthood.” So, the two big questions are: What changes can couples expect to encounter when becoming new parents? and How can couples overcome this period of change to safeguard their marriage?

First, let’s look at the many different changes that new parents may encounter.

Lack of Sleep: Both parents can become exhausted caring for a newborn. Babies often eat many times during the night. Or they may just cry often and refuse to sleep.

Differences in Child Rearing Ideas: The way you were raised most often carries over into how you raise your own children. Because these ideas and practices are most likely going to be different than your spouses, you might find yourself at odds with each other. Tensions may run high until you can both come to an agreement over an acceptable form of child-rearing.

The Husband-Wife Relationship Takes a Back Seat. Taking care of a new baby is a very time consuming job. It is a never-ending cycle of constant feedings, sleep schedules, dirty diapers, extra laundry, and many other ‘new’ demands. It can be hard to have time to work on the relationship with your spouse.

Change of Work/Household Responsibilities. Some new moms decide to cut back their hours in outside work to care for the baby. This places extra financial pressure and burden on the husband. This leads to a greater divide between childcare and housework. Feelings of frustration and guilt start to occur on both sides.

In a study done at the University of Denver, it was found that “marital satisfaction decreases over time. It just decreases faster around the time a baby is born.” But this doesn’t mean that every couple should avoid having children. As a matter of fact, “15 percent of fathers and 7 percent of mothers ended up more satisfied with their marriage after the birth of a child.”

For those couples who do find that having a newborn is causing stress on their marriage, here are a few tips to overcome those hard times:

You Are in this Together. Even with a new baby in the house, take time to work on your relationship. Spend even just a few minutes together to just talk and catch up. Remember to plan time for dates. It doesn’t have to be fancy, perhaps just go on a walk.

Set Clear Lines. Talk through who will handle which tasks. Figure out a good plan for household chores as well as child care. Setting clear lines will help diminish frustrations and misunderstandings.

Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to call on extended family and friends. Grandparents would love to take over for an evening while you spend some time working on your relationship.

 This quote nicely sums up the wonders of becoming new parents and why overcoming hard times in marriage is all worth it: “Even if marriage isn’t as blissful as it was in the honeymoon phase, new joys arrive – the bliss of a baby’s first steps, the satisfaction of creating a stable, loving home, and the contentment of being together as a family.” (citation)

 

To find my previous posts on Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage, click here: Loss of a Child, Addictions, Chronic Illness, Losing a Job, and Empty Nesters

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Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage: EMPTY NESTERS

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It seems like I spend every day shuttling kids to school, to basketball games, and to dentist appointments. I am always helping somebody with their homework while trying to make dinner. There are piles of laundry heaped on my bed waiting to be sorted through. At the end of the day, I fall into bed exhausted only to be woken at 1 AM by tiny cries. Ah, the life of a mom. I am busy and life is hectic.

Believe it or not, there will come a day when I only have to make dinner for two. The house will be quieter and less chaotic. I will sleep all night long without hearing that tiny voice calling out for mom. While this makes my heart hurt a little bit, there is another concern to consider: Will my marriage be able to survive the Empty Nest stage?

Sadly, many couples push aside their marriage relationship and invest more time and effort into the raising of children. The lack of effort spent on nurturing their relationship has created a void that becomes glaringly obvious when the children leave the home. Over the past few years, there has become an increasing trend of divorces involving spouses over the age of fifty. It is labeled the “Gray Divorce”. One of the most prevalent factors in this trend is the empty-nest syndrome. It can be a very emotional time when your youngest child leaves home. Those emotions combined with the major transition of becoming an empty-nester can lead to the breakdown of a marriage. This is why couples need to safeguard their marriage.

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Here are some ways you can prepare for a smooth transition into the Empty Nest years:

  • Set A Daily Plan. Create a routine that once the kids are in bed, you and your spouse spend time talking, cuddling, or anything else that allows for one-on-one time.
  • Date Your Spouse. This is the key to strengthening your marriage. Plan regular date nights. Try to avoid talking about the kid’s homework, how many poopy diapers you changed that day, or the mile long grocery list. Spend time focusing on each other. Talk about the future or reminisce about things from the past.
  • Talk About It. Communicate your expectations about the empty nest years to your spouse. Perhaps your spouse wants to travel and you want to spend lots of time with the grandkids. Figure out what your spouse considers to be the priority and work together to find common goals and ideals.

If you are currently an Empty Nester, here are some ways to overcome some of the challenges you may encounter:

  • Let Go of the Past. Let go of past disappointments or missed opportunities and forgive each other. Look towards the future, set some goals and look for ways to enjoy this new and exciting time of life.
  • Focus on Each Other. Remove the familiar focus on your children and shift your entire focus towards your marriage. Work on building a closer more personal relationship with each other.
  • Energize Your Love Life. Look for ways to romance your spouse. Many couples experience a more satisfying sex life and greater marital happiness when the children leave the nest. They are finding that more privacy at home and less daily parenting responsibilities are allowing them to reconnect on an intimate level.
  • Connect with Other Empty Nesters. Think about starting an empty nesters group. Spend time with other couples to encourage and inspire each other during this stage of life.

All major transitions in a marriage can be challenging. It is important that you work together as husband and wife to plan for those hard times. Your marriage is worth it!

 

To find my previous posts on Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage, click here: Loss of a Child, Addictions, Chronic Illness, and Losing a Job.

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Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage: LOSING A JOB

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A few years ago, my husband called me from work. This was not unusual as we always checked in with each other during the day. Unfortunately this day turned out to be the exception. Instead of our usual pleasantries, he delivered some shocking news: “Well, the company is laying-off everybody and closing their doors.” I was not prepared to hear those words. So many things raced through my mind. I wondered if he would be able to find another job or how long we could live on my part-time salary and our savings. Some of my thoughts were selfish like how I wouldn’t be able to watch Friends in the middle of the day anymore. Yes, I know, this really is a valid concern!

A research study on unemployment rate and divorce finds that when unemployment rates are high, marriages are subjected to a lot of stress. There are two ways high unemployment can affect a marriage. First, changes can occur in one’s personality in response to losing a job. These changes could be feelings of depression, bitterness, and anger. Persistently feeling this way can create a wedge between spouses which may lead to divorce. Second, financial changes as a result of losing a job can create hardships, misunderstandings, and potentially lead to divorce.

We had some challenging days and months for a few years after my husband was laid off. Although it was difficult, I was able to look back and see how our marriage was strengthened because of those hard times. Losing a job doesn’t need to lead to a divorce. Here are some things that we learned on how to overcome a job loss in a marriage:

  1. Come up with a new financial budget. Talk with each other (and your children) about cutting back unnecessary expenses. Remember that this will only be temporary, but everyone must be willing to sacrifice during this hard time. My biggest sacrifice was cancelling our pest control service. I really hate spiders, but I learned to deal with it (aka: using my vacuum to suck up any poor spider that found its way into my house!).
  2. Formulate a job search plan. Rework your resume together and brainstorm job opportunities. Work together to search for and apply to jobs. I am much faster at typing than my husband, so he would dictate his job skills to me and I would type them up.
  3. Don’t give up – consider going back to school. It can take quite a toll on your self-esteem to be continually rejected from job opportunities. We found that my husband excelled in experience, but lacked in formal education. The solution we came up with was for him to go back to school. That was almost more difficult on our marriage than losing a job!
  4. Communicate. Talk about your concerns and fears for the future. Don’t dwell on the past. Focus on encouraging and supporting each other. Focus on strengthening your marriage. It was quite a change to have my husband home all of the time. We eventually settled into a routine and made the most of our extra time together. We ran errands together and split up chores around the house.
  5. Be patient. The job market can be tough. Finding a job that you are qualified for takes time, but stay with it. Eventually you will find that perfect fit. It took us almost 2 years to find the perfect job. My husband’s decision to go back to school delayed things a bit, but it also opened up way more opportunities along the way. Remember that as a couple, you are in this together.

As always, work to support each other, encourage each other, and love each other. Your marriage is worth it!

 

To find my previous posts on Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage, click here: Loss of a Child, Addictions, and Chronic Illness.

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Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage: CHRONIC ILLNESS

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“….for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…” Oh, that all familiar phrase that brings to mind beautiful flowers, diamond rings, a flowy white dress, romantic music, and love. A wedding ceremony marks the beginning of a marriage where the future is bright and the possibilities are endless. Husband and wife envision their new life together as exciting and wonderful.

No one ever plans for a serious, life-altering illness to occur. A chronic illness can affect many aspects of a marriage such as financial strain, inability to go to work, and lack of intimacy. Studies have indicated that a chronic illness may increase the risk for divorce by serving as a large stressor on the marital relationship. A chronic illness creates feelings of anxiety, fear and guilt. Both spouses become physically and emotionally strained. As with any form of stressor in a relationship, one thing is key, Good Communication.

It is suggested that couples sit down and discuss how they will handle specific issues such as: the impact of the illness, dealing with finances, caring for their children, intimacy, and any new changes that the illness brings. Couples should also talk about how to let go of the past when health was good so they can move forward. Communication will help couples work together to find solutions and continue towards building a happy future.

Always support each other, love each other and never give up. Marriage is worth it!

 

To find my previous posts on Overcoming Hard Times in Marriage, click here: Loss of a Child and Addictions

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